Sean Williams hits valiant century but Zimbabwe falls 73 short in series decider
A fine display of pace bowling from Dawlat Zadran helped Afghanistan register its first ever One-Day International bilateral series win against a Full Member, beating Zimbabwe by 73 runs in the fifth and final ODI to seal the series 3-2 on Saturday(October 24).
Asked to bat, Afghanistan posted 245 for 9 and then restricted Zimbabwe to 172 all out in 44.1 overs at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, despite a fighting 124-ball 102 from Sean Williams.
With this win, Afghanistan also became the first Associate nation to beat a Full Member team in a bilateral ODI series.
Mohammad Shahzad gave Afghanistan a promising start, hammering 26 off 22 in an opening stand of 35 with Noor Ali Zadran (54). The latter was happy playing second fiddle as Shahzad went about his business before he was caught at midwicket by Tinotenda Mutombodzi off Wellington Masakadza. Masakadza was Zimbabwe’s best bowler with 3 for 31.
Noor Ali, who has been in good touch in this series, then added 97 runs for the second wicket with Mohammad Nabi (53). The duo took the team past 100 and set a solid platform for a late onslaught. However, Noor Ali’s patient 88-ball innings was cut short when he was bowled by Sikandar Raza in the 28th over.
Nabi too fell soon after completing his half-century, caught at point by Chamu Chibhabha in the 34th over while trying to up the scoring rate. Zimbabwe then staged a remarkable comeback and kept chipping away at wickets as the visiting side slipped to 202 for 7. It was then the pace-bowling duo of Mirwais Ashraf (21) and Dawlat (13 not out) that lifted the team to a fighting score with a 27-run stand in 2.5 overs for the eighth wicket.
Afghanistan had the momentum going into the break and the bowlers ensured that they didn’t let the home side get on top in the chase. Batsmen came and went as Zimbabwe found itself at 51 for 5 by the 15th over.
Many congratulations to our cricket heroes for making the history today by winning the 1st ever series against a full ICC member. Well done!— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) October 24, 2015
Dawlat (4 for 22) rocked the top order, accounting for Chibhabha (7) and Richmond Mutumbami (2). There was no respite from the other end as Ashraf nipped out Craig Ervine for 1.
In need of a partnership, Zimbabwe’s hopes rested on Williams and Raza (2), the two seasoned campaigners. But Raza was stumped trying to tonk Amir Hamza out of the park.
Williams and Elton Chigubura (14), the captain, then resisted for close to 12 overs to add 52 runs to keep the team afloat. Williams kept fighting and got to his maiden ODI century in the 43rd over when he drove Nabi down the ground for a single.
Zimbabwe needed 112 runs in the last 15 overs and had just four wickets in hand but eventually fell short to concede the match and the series.
To see the full scorecard of this match, please click here.